Last week’s weather reminded us that Spring will come as the warm temperatures caused wheat fields to become greener and give us the hint of warmer days to come. This is a good time of the year as daylight hours increase rapidly in the next few weeks and give up a chance to shake cabin fever. One of my cows had a new calf this week and there is a promise of more to come. Life is good.
Leon McClerren, Ralph Smith and I have just return from the Illinois Farm Bureau’s Governmental Affairs Conference in Springfield and the theme of the conference was that there is a lot of work for us to do in both Springfield and Washington.
In Washington, there are two main issues of concern.
First the new Farm Bill is certainly on the horizon as we look to 2012 and begin the preliminary discussion concerning the Farm Bill. One of the issues in the Farm Bill is of course budgetary items – the initial proposal set forth by the Obama Administration would have agriculture receiving a 15% reduction in its budget which is much higher than any other portion of the federal budget. I believe that farmers are willing to take their share in budgetary cuts to programs but this is disproportionate in other areas of the budget that need to be reduced.
Second, the issues of environmental regulations are of great concern to farmers in two areas – the present proposals by the EPA would make all waters regulated by these new EPA regulations. One EPA bureaucrat said that they wanted to regulate every mud hole on every farm. This type of an attitude at the EPA is a great concern to farmers everywhere. The language that would give them the regulatory power to reach into almost every farm in Franklin County would be the “waters of the United States”. In the past the language of navigable waters has been used to limit the reach of the EPA.
The US EPA would also like to have greater regulatory control over the ability of farmers in field spraying operations. It is the desire of the EPA to require any farmer who sprays chemicals to have a permit for such operations. Can you imagine the nightmare of such a regulation? Farm Bureau is working to represent your interest in both of these issues.
In Springfield the concerns of the day are the budgetary issues facing the state budget. The general assembly has already taken care of the interest of tax payers by raising personal income tax by 66%. It seems that is the easy part for our Representatives but the issue of balancing the budget will require reductions in expenditure to solve the problem completely.
It is amazing tome that we could raise our taxes by such a great amount by just one vote of the general assembly but we will debate for months any reduction in any line items of expenditures in the budget.
The easy part is over – the hard part begins!
Another issue that the Illinois General Assembly will have to tackle this spring is the redrawing of congressional and state districts. This task is necessary every ten years after the census and even though the state of Illinois grew in population by 3.3% we will lose one Congressional seat because other states grew more rapidly than Illinois. What this re-districting means to use in Illinois means that there will be a higher leadership from northern Illinois versus southern Illinois. This means more representation for Chicago versus down state Illinois.
We did meet with Representative John Bradley at a reception on Wednesday evening in which he shared with us some of the plans for reductions to the budget. It is obvious that Representative Bradley is very much involved in the budgetary process and we are fortunate to have him as our representative.
We will be calling upon you at times this year to make contacts with our elected officials in effecting a positive outcome on these issues.
Just a reminder to check out our website at fcfbil.org for the latest discussions on these issued.
Remember we are farmers working together, if we can help please let us know.